Mention website analytics to many doctors and you can almost see their eyes glaze over. Visitor flows, bounce rates, multi-channel funnels — to the uninitiated, the parameters that give Google Analytics and its counterparts their punch can seem all but indecipherable.
The good news is that they don’t have to be. On the one hand, your web vendor should be able to explain any aspect of the analytic ecosystem to you in plain language. (If your vendor resists — or worse, doesn’t share your website’s analytics at all — it may be time for a new vendor.) On the other, there’s a lot more to metrics than just a bunch of charts and numbers.
Here are four ways your analytics can help you enhance your marketing efforts:
Let’s face it, not all blog posts are created equal. Some days, you share things that resonate with readers; other days, not so much. If you want to see for yourself, click on the Content tab in Google Analytics and you can easily see which posts attracted the most visits (good) and which ones prompted people to leave your website (bad). If your site has social buttons (e.g., Google +1, Facebook likes, etc.), you can also track what site visitors share with others via the Social tab under Traffic Sources.
Takeaway: Ask your analytics person to give you a list of the posts that generated the most visits and shares. These are the subjects your readers care about, which can provide valuable insights for future content and marketing efforts.
At the simplest level, knowing which sites deliver Internet users to your practice website is a powerful tool for determining where you should be focusing your marketing efforts. (This is true for both direct referrals and indirect referrals, which requires an understanding of marketing attribution.) Often overlooked, however, those same sites may offer opportunities for joint efforts, such as reciprocal guest posting, which can expand your audience exponentially.
Takeaway: Have your vendor provide data on which sites are referring visitors to your website. With the info in hand, visit those sites and poke around. If you like what you see and they’re not direct competitors, reach out to see if they’re interested in joining forces on content, promotions, events, etc.
Do you need a mobile version of your website? Your analytics can tell you everything from what percentage of your users access your website on mobile devices to the specific devices they use. Considering that 25% of mobile Internet users in the U.S. call themselves “mobile only,” you don’t want to turn them off with a site that loads slowly or is hard to navigate.
Takeaway: Between Wi-Fi and high-speed cellular networks, mobile users expect their phone- and tablet-based surfing to be as smooth as it is on their laptop or desktop computer. If 25% or more of your visitors are accessing your site via mobile device, you should definitely have a site that’s optimized for the unique challenges of small screens and touch-based interfaces.
While visitors to your website are referred by other online entities, it goes without saying that they also exist in the real world. Click on the Location tab in Google Analytics and you can see which states and countries generate the most traffic, valuable information as you plan content, ad campaigns and offline marketing efforts.
Takeaway: Assuming most of your traffic is coming from the local area, ask your marketing team if they’re including geo-specific content on your website (e.g., Seattle cosmetic surgeon, Boston breast augmentation, etc.). Conversely, if a significant portion is coming from farther away, it can provide direction for additional advertising and offline marketing efforts.
Bottom line: Too many doctors shy away from asking about their website analytics. This is a mistake. You don’t have to crunch the numbers yourself but if you’re paying a webmaster or web vendor, they should be providing regular reports that translate the data into actionable information. If they’re not, it may be time to rethink the relationship.